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Extension Service 



U. S* Dept. of kgti , ACE-200 
1 ,S "^'So COMMERCIAL' BRINE PRESERVATION OF VEGETABLES 1 > j 



' ri^Y & by 



John L. Etchells, bureau of Agricultural and Indus ;r^plj UN 1 1 fc;43 
\ Chemistry, Agricultural Research Administration, 

II. S. Department of Agriculture, Raleigh, N. C. 



r 



and 



LIBRARY 
. RECEIVED 



U. S. frtpertmwt tf Agriwitoire 



Ivan D. Jones, Department of Horticulture, ft. C. Agricul- 
tural Experiment Station, Raleigh, K. 0. 

INTRODUCTION 

Under wartime restrictions with regard to metals, rubber, and other 
essentials, food processors are indeed faced with problems that tax their 
American ingenuity. ,. Furthermore, the increasing demands that are being made 
for processed food stuffs by the armed forces and by our allies over and above 
our usual civilian needs, add to an already acute problem. Thus, it would, 
appear obvious that no possible phase of food preservation should escape closest 
scrutiny by those in any way connected with the food industry. 

During ordinary times we usually think of canning, freezing, and drying 
as the major commercial methods of preserving fruits and vegetables for future 
table use. However, one of our oldest methods of food preservation - the use 
of salt - should be included in " the above group by virtue of the fact that 
millionis of bushels of farm produce, such as cucumbers, onions, peppers, green 
tomatoes, and cauliflower, are annually preserved in brine by commercial pickl- 
ing concerns. The average consumer probably has never seen any of the above 
products at the brine-preserved salt-stock stage, but he is rather familiar with 
the desalted, processed articles, such as various types of cucumber pickle 
or mixed pickle containing cucumbers, onions, peppers, and. cauliflower.. 

Thus, the commercial pickling industry in this country attests to the 
practical nature of this method of preservation.. Also, the fact that brined 
material may be kept for a period of several years prior to manufacturing into 
pickle products, is further proof that this basic procedure is sound. However, 
certain losses In nutritive constituents occur during the fermentation process 
which is brought about by micro-organisms associated with brining of vegetable 
material. In this connection it has been demonstrated that irrespective of the 
brine strength used (upwards of 90-percent saturation) certain types of salt- 
tolerant micro-organisms are able .to grow, utilizing for their food nutritive 

1 

. • Presented at the annual meeting of the National PicklePackers ' Association, 
■ Chicago, 111., January 19-20, 1943. Published . in d&£*£r£p 1943 issue of the 
Fruit Products Journal* and reproduced by permission.. 

Agricultural Chemical Research Division contribution No. 106. Approved for 
publication as paper No. 162 of the Journal Series of the N. C. Agricultural 
Experiment Station. 



468-43 



materials (principally sugars) which have diffused from the vegetable material ' 
into the brine. Since orined material is usually stored in high-salt content 
brines (60-60° sal. 3 , 15.3 to £1.1 percent salt), it logically follows that in 
the desalting operation there would be additional losses in soluble nutritive 
materials. Su.cn losses would be in keeping With the amount of salt removed. 
There are probably the main contributing reasons why commercial brine preserva- 
tion of vegetables for table use has received only limited attention and has 
never figured in competition with other methods' of preservation. 

Notwithstanding the acknowledged losf.es attending the usual methods of 
brine preservation as described, it must be pointed out that, even with materials 
desalted f ream, strong brines, appreciable amounts of nutritives can remain, 
principally proi eir.r-, . starches, and minerals, which must be considered valuable 
adjuncts to the diet. To what extent improved or modified salting methods may 
minimize the losses occuring during brine preservation remains to be seen. 
However, from current work underway, it appears that there are some extremely 
promising possibilities. lurthermore, as a method of emergency preservation 
requiring a minimum of labor and critical materials, and offering the possibility 
of storing large quantities of material in bulk until future processing and 
distribution may be brought about, brine preservation justly deserves adequate 
consideration in our war program. 

This paper represents a generalized report of a study on the brine 
preservation of certain vegetables. Only the principal phases of this investi- 
gation are considered at this time. In addition, brief recommendations are 
attached for the routine brining of the particular vegetables investigated. 

BEPOEE OF FESSSM - WOEK " 

Investigational work on brine preservation of vegetables has been under 
way for the past 9 months as a joint research project of the Bureau of Agri- 
cultural and Industrial Chemistry of the U. S. Department of Agriculture and 
the ftiorth Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station. For the past several 
years this group 'has carried out extensive studies in connection with commercial 
brine preservation of cucumbers and the experience gained in this work is now 
being applied to other vegetable materials. To date, consideration has been 
given to the following vegetables: Green snap bea„ns, green peas, lima beans, 
yellow wax beans, carrots, and certain leafy vegetables. 

Salometer reading, indicating percent saturation with respect to salt. 

4 

These losses can be reduced in brined vegetable material by utilizing the 
material directly, without- desalting, in soup mixtures. Here the salt 
content of the vegetables -would go to seasoning the soup. . , . 

5 

It is -interesting to note that in Germany during World War I, due to shortage 
of tin and lack of freezing facilities at that time,, thousands of tons of 
vegetables were' preserved in brine for civilian use. In fact, the popularity 
of brined green snap beans was such that this product was commercially put 
up for several years after the war. This information was kindly supplied by 
Mr.' Max Lehmann, Portland, Oreg. , who was in Germans'- at the time. 



- 3 - 



In carrying out the current "brining program we have attempted to give 
consideration to the following pointst (l) The study of "regular 1 ' or accepted 
salting-procedures such as are used for cucumbers; (2) 'the development of modi- 
fied' salting methods hotter adapted to the vegetables involved in these studies, 
so as to minimize losses of nutrients; (3) vitamin retention with respect to 
carotene (pro-vitamin A) and vitamin C during curing and storage; (4) the chemi- 
cal . and' "bacteriological changes in the brine during curing and storage; (5) the 
physical changes with respect to color, texture, and general appearance during 
curing and storage; (6) methods most satisfactory for desalting brined vegetables 
prior to cooking; (7) color retention of the cooked product; and (8) edibility 
and methods of preparation of the desalted, preserved material. 

USE OE REGULAR SALTING TREATMENTS 

The large-scale "brining has been restricted to green beans, lima beans, 
and peas (unshelled and uncut in all cases). 

The program involved the use of three different initial brine concentra- 
tions (See table i) . Duplicate 60-pound lots of each vegetable were brined in 
20-gallon open-headed kegs which were maintained under out-of-doors conditions. ■ 
Eighteen lots were put down in May 1942. The approximate average "brine tempera;- 
ture during curing was 80-90° E. , and the range of the brine temperature from the 
time they were put down to the present ha„s-been from about a high of 95° to a. 
low of 10° E. 

After approximately 8 to 9 months storage in brine all lots of the above 
vegetable material are in excellent condition as judged by their color, texture, 
and freedom from spoilage. 

It should be emphasized that the vegetables were salted whole; that is, 
the green beans were not cut, nor were the peas or lirnas removed from their pods. 
This would be a distinct advantage in areas where labor, time, or equipment at 
harvest did not permit the cutting or shelling operation. 

Samples of the desalted cooked material exhibited a marked improvement in 
color as compared with the "brined product prior to processing, returning more 
nearly to the color of the fresh material. This was particularly true of the limas 
and peas. The flavor was satisfactory for brine-stock vegetables. 

Vegetables preserved in this way may be cooked with tomatoes or corn or 
used in purees and soups. Lima beans may be baked with molasses similar to 
navy "beans. 

USE 0E "LOW SALT" ACT DI EI ED TREATMENTS 

During July, freshly harvested, mountain-grown, green snap beans were put 
down in 60 - to 70-pound lots, covered with a rather low-salt brine (17° sal. or 
4*4 percent salt by weight), and no further salt was added. This treatment was 
designed to' be sufficiently low in salt so that desalting prior to cooking might 
be - eliminated. 

Using this basic brining program, three variations in the treatment were 
introduced. Each treatment was carried out in duplicate 20-gallon kegs which were. 



tightly headed at the start of the experiment. A hole in the head remained un- 
bunged for the first 10 days. The kegs- were headed up shortly after "being 
"brined; thus exposure to sunlight and' air, dilution by -rain, and growth of sur- 
face micro-organisms were avoided.- 

In the first treatment each keg received 50 pounds of beans which Were 
"blanched 2 minutes, plus 600 cc. of 116 grain vinegar and sufficient 17° "brine 
to fill. In the second treatment all conditions were similar to those of the 
first treatment with, the exceptions that the "beans were not "blanched. The third 
treatment was similar to the, second except that the "brine was acidified "by adding 
180 cc. of 50-percent edible lactic at the start rs.ther than by adding vinegar. 

After about 1 and 8 months,, samples of the beans were processed simply 
by removing them from the salt brine, washing quickly, adding sufficient tap 
water to cover, and cooking. The resulting product possessed a fair bean odor 
and flavor, excellent texture, and an olive-green color. The salt content of the 
cooked beans was not undesirably high. A tasting panel comrjosed of 10 persons 
ate cooked samples of the beans served in several ways (including creamed, and 
southern style with ham hock) and, in general, -judged them satisfactory for table 
"consumption. Snap beans preserved in this way may also be used in soups and 
mixed vegetable dishes; cooked with navy beans, G-erman style; and cooked alone 
for those relishing an acid- flavored bean. . 5 

The. work reported so far was carried out under what we might term large- 
scale conditions; hence it has been de-alt with in considerable detail. The work 
which will now be described was carried out under laboratory conditions- during the 
late fall and. winter months- and w-as designed chiefly to give valuable leads with 
regard to other vegetables suitable for largo- scale operations. While the results 
might not be considered, conclusive, we have usually found good agreement between 
such laboratory studies and subsequent larger scale operations. 

LM.Tf V3GETA3I3S 

Investigations were undertaken • during October 1942 on brine preservation 
of leafy vegetables under laboratory conditions (on a small scale, involving about 
l/2-pound lots in 1-quart je.rs). Tour greens \^ere used, namely, kale, mustard 
greens, spinach, and turnip greens. Each "Kind was subjected to five different ■ 
treatments (See table II) represented by covering with a 20° sal. brine (5 per- 
cent salt) unmodified or modified as indicated: (l) brine only; (2) brine plus 
vinegar; (3) brine plus lactic acid; (4) brine plus vinegar plus an antioxidant; 
and (5) blanched material plus brine plus vinegar. This made a total of 20 lots, 
and all have been examined at regular intervals for changes in color, odor, brine 
turbidity, general appearance, and texture -„ 

In general, _ after about 4 months' storage in brine, all greens, with the 
exception of some- lots of spinach, were keeping well, possessed good texture, re- 
tained good to fair natural odor, and had a light green to yollowish color. In 
the case of the spinach lots, some were inferior, and the brine-alone treatment 
in particular yielded a decidedly inferior product, of which the- tissue was dis- 
integrated and discolored. The only spinach lot comparable to the other greens 
in seeping quality appeared to be the lot which received vinegar plus antioxidant. 



- 5 - 



G-reens preserved in this way may "be dowered with an equal Volume of water, 
cookedj and served or they Way he Used in soups, or in mixed vegetable dishes. 

PRESERVATION OF CARROTS 

Fresh carrots have been put down using treatments similar to those describ- 
ed for leafy vegetables (See table II and note exceptions) . Approximately 2- 
pound lots of carrots in 2 -quart jars were used and the ratio of carrots to brine 
was about 1*1. The following five treatments involving the use of 24° sal. brine 
(6.2 percent salt), unmodified or modified as indicated, were used; (l) brine 
only; (2) brine plus vinegar; (3) brine plus lactic acid; (4) brine plus a mixture 
of vinegar and lactic acid; (5) blanched carrots plus vinegar and lactic acid plus 
antioxidant. All lots were stored under laboratory conditions and were -examined 
at intervals. 

The preserved carrots, after about 2-1 / 2 months, are in excellent con- 
dition as judged by color, texture, and general appearance. There has been no 
evidence of spoilage in any lot. The preserved material has a rich golden-orange 
color and good carrot odor. The carrot tissue is firm and crisp. The blanched 
lot is more tender than the unblanched material. All lots underwent active acid 
fermentation. 

DRY SALT COMPRESSION TREATMENT OF BLANCHED GREEN BEANS 

Blanched, fresh green beans have teen dry-salted at four different 
concentrations, 2.5, 5, 10, and 15 percent sa.lt by weight. No brine was added, 
but brine was formed by the action of the salt in withdrawing water from the 
vegetable material. This treatment was carried out in en effort to increase the 
amount of salted material that can be packed into a given container, as well as 
to reduce losses of flavor, aroma, color, and nutritive constituents common to 
usual brining methods. Lots were held in storage at both room temperature (70° F, ) 
and refrigerator temperature (35.6° F.). The latter temperature was expected to 
favor ■ retention of color, flavor, and aroma, and reduce loss of nutrients by 
arresting fermentation. Considerable interest has been shown in this approach, 
since some food concerns prefer to utilize an un fermented product and have avail- 
able cold storage facilities that coeild be used for holding the salted material 
in bulk. 

The fresh beans were blanched for 3 to 3-1 / 2 minutes in flowing steam and . 
promptly cooled. They were cut into about 1-inch lengths, packed into glass 
cylinders (2 pounds in each), and dry salt was a.dded while packing. Weights were 
applied at the rate of about 5 pounds per pound of beans and allowed to stand 
until the brine formed and rose over the top of the beans. After about 24 to 4-8 
hours the beans from the cylinders were repacked into jars for more convenient 
handling an.d storage. Two sets of jars were filled with beans prepared at each 
salt concentration (2.5, 5, 10, and 15 percent of salt by weight), one set for 
storage at room temperature and the other for storage at refrigerator temperature. 
Beans were canned at the same time for future conroarisons. 

The results in general, after about 2 months' storage, are most promising. 
It appears that, by this application of dry salting, a marked retention of flavor 
and a,roma has been obtained as compared to beans salted by other methods. Also, 
about 100 percent increase in the amount of beans that can be put in a given con- 



tainer has been ..obtained as compared to other salting methods used. 

It wa.s noted that all the refrigerated lots retained their "bright green 
"blanched color for ah out 1 month. After that time there was a gradual change 
to a lighter color, beginning with the lot containing 2.5 percent of salt, and 
by the end of 2 months all lots except that containing the highest percentage o'f 
salt looked alike (olive green). The lot containing 15 percent of salt still 
retained the'major portion of its original green color. Scans stored at room 
temperature lost their bright green color much sooner than those -that were re- 
frigerated, ' the change ' to an olive green color being apparent in the lots contain- 
ing 2.5 and 5 percent of salt within about 3 days, in the lot containing 10 pe it- 
cent of salt after about 8 days, and in the lot containing 15 percent of salt 
after about 2 or 3 weeks. 

Bacteriological tests at the end of 2 months demonstrated that active acid 
fermentation in the refrigerated beans had been arrested for that length of time 
in the lots containing 10 and 15 percent of salt. However, active acid fermen- 
tation took place in the lots containing 2.5 and 5 percent of salt after about 
21 and 45 days, respectively, and a gaseous fermentation by the A erobacter 
group of bacteria occurred in the lot containing 2.5 percent of salt within 7 
days. In the beans stored at room temperature, active fermentation started in 
the lots containing 2.5, 5, and 10 percent of salt within 1 to 3 days. There 
was no evidence of an acid fermentation in the lot containing 15 percent of salt, 
although there was a vigorous, gaseous yeast fermentation which started after 
about 2 months. 

Beans preserved by the dry salt-compression treatment may be cooked with 
water in the ordinary way, cooked with vegetable mixtures, or used for soups. 

VI TAMIN HZ TENT I ON 

No mention has been made thus far of vitamin retention in the various whole 
vegetables salted by different treatments. The results have hot been completed, 
but a partial report based on preliminary observations can be made. 

With respect to the green beans, lima beans, and green peas, salted ac- 
cording to the 20 , 40°^ 50 sal. treatment and held under outside " storage 
conditions, the following observations have been noted; After about a. 4-month 
storage period, the best retention of carotene P (pro-vitamin A) was obtained 
with green peas. About one-half of the initial carotene content of, the material 
remained. There was considerably less retention (in all lots) in the ease of 
lima beans and 'green beans as compared to peas. 

The salting treatment used did not appear to materially affect carotene 
retention in the case of peas. However, the use of brines of initially lower 
salt content (20° and 4-0° sal.) seemed to favor better • retention in the case of 
green beans, after 1 month's storage, as compared to the 60° sal. initial brine. 
At the end of 4 months' storage, however, this relationship appeared to be absent. 

i ; : I 

Chemical analysis wa.s made for carotene on initial fresh vegetable material 
(whole) as well as on the material during curing and storage. Carotene is 
transformed in the body to vitamin A. 



_ 7 - 



Vitamin C losses were practically complete in all cases. 

The "low salt !r acidified lots of green beans ,(l7° sal. brine) after 8 . 
months showed much "bettor carotene retention than did the lots salted according 
to the 20° , 40°, end 60° sal. schedules just discussed. In fact, the low salt, 
acidified lots showed about 90-95 percent retention. The blanched lots showed 
slightly lower carotene retention than did the unblanched lots. Also, there was 
from 10- to 15-percent retention of vitamin C. 7 It must be pointed out that the 
kegs containing these lots were headed up (closed) after salting; hence the brine 
surface was not exposed to air as was the case with, lots of green beans, lima 
beans, and green peas (at 20°, 40°, and 60° sa l. brine) in kegs which were false- 
headed and stored out of doors, leaving the brine surface exposed during curing 
and storage. 

Examination of the; leafy vegetables for carotene content after about 4 
months showed about 40- to 50- percent retention; from 3,000 to 5,000 Internal ion-* 
al Units por 100 grams was the range for all brined greens except spinach which 
was not examined. Also, there was some vitamin C retention in the salted ma** 
terial. 

The salted carrots were analyzed after about 2 months and showed little 
or no loss of ce.rotene. The salted material contained about 10,000 International 
Units per 100. grams, which was about the same as the initial content when sa.lt ed. 
Determinations for vitamin C were not made since this vegetable is not a potent 
source of this vitamin. 

The dry-salted compressed lots of blanched green beans, put up with 2.5, 
5, 10, and 15 percent of salt by weight, were analyzed after about 2 months' 
storage at room and refrigerator temperatures. The preliminary results showed 
similar values with respect to carotene and vitamin C retention by the beans 
irrespective of the amount of salt used or storage temperature employed. On the 
average, about 15 -percent of the vitamin and 60 -percent of the carotene were 
retained ° in all lots of salted beans after about 2 months' storage at either 
room or refrigerator temperature. 

"Varietal suitability of vegetables to preservation by brining has not been 
investigated in detail in these studies. However, two varieties of green beans, 
namely, Tendergreen and Black Valentine Stringless, were tested using the "low- 
salt" acidified brine (17° sal.) treatment. The Tendergreen variety yielded a 
satisfactory brined product as previously indicated in this report. The same 
treatment with the Black Valentine Stringless (harvested at the same time) pro- 

7 : ~ ~~ 

Vitamin C is water soluble. Accordingly this vitamin diffuses from the vege- 
table into the brine, thereby reducing the concentration in the brined vege- 
table to about half of its original concentration. Also, this vitamin is 
easily oxidized which accounts in part for its destruction in lots of material 
salted and stored in open-headed kegs (20° 40°, and 60° sal. schedules). 

8 

Based on concentrations present in the blanched material at the time salted. 



duced an extremely tough bean Which remained tough, even. .after prolonged cooking* 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 

Regular salting treatments (20°, 40°, and 60° sal. "brines) for green beans, peas, 
and lima beans cured and stored in open, unsheltered containers. 

1. Green beans, lima beans, and peas were -satisfactorily preserved 
by covering with a 60° salometer brine. (l-l/2 pounds of salt per 
gallon of water) and adding sufficient salt to maintain this' 
concentration. 

"2. These products when desalted and cooked resembled similar canned 

vegetables in appearance. The texture and flavor were' somewhat al- 
tered but were entirely satisfactory. 

3. The vegetables were also satisfactorily preserved by uning .20° 
(l/2 pound of salt per gallon of water) and 40 (1 pound of salt 
per gallon of water) salometer brines which were gradually increased 
to 60° salometer for storage purposes. No advantage was realized 
by these modifications. 

4. Approximately one-half the original carotene (pro-vitamin A) con--, 
tent of the green peas remained after 4 months' storage .in brine. 
The retention was similar, irrespective of salting treatment. In 
general, there was considerably less carotene retention in the 
preserved green beans and lima beans. Vitamin C losses were practi- 
cally complete in all cases. 

"Low-salt" acidified brine (17° sal., 4.4$ or approximately 1/2 pound salt 
per gallon of water) treatment for green beans cured and stored in closed 

After approximately 10 months' storage in brine all lots were in 
good condition as judged by .general appearance, flavor, and texture. 

The lots that were blanched (2 minutes in boiling water) prior to 
salting possess better flavor and texture than the unblanched lots. 
Also, the blanched lots required considerably less cooking. 

The necessity for desalting prior to cooking was eliminated by the 
"low-salting" procedure. The beans were prepared for table use 
simply by washing, adding just sufficient water to cover, and cooking 

The carotene (pro-vitamin A) content of the various lots preserved by 
the above method using closed containers was much higher than that of 
green beans salted in open-headed, unsheltered containers. 

"Low-salt" acidified brine (20° sal.) treatment for leafy vegetables (kale, mustard 
greens, spinach, and turnip greens) under laboratory conditions in closed con- 
tainers. 



containers. 

i. 
2. 

3. 

4. 



- 9 - 



1. After 4 to 5 months* storage in "brine all the leafy vegetables, with 
the exception of spinach, were in good condition as judged "by ap- 
pearance, color, and texture. In general, the spinach lots ware 
inferior in texture and in some cases they were spoiled. 

2. Approximately one-half of the original carotene (pro-vitamin A) 
content of the leafy vegetables was retained in the brine-preserved 
material. The amount retained was approximately 3,000 to 5,000 
International Units per 100 grams. 

"Low-salt" acidified brine (24° sal.) treatment for carrots cured and stored in 
closed container. 

1. After approximately 2 to 3 months' storage all lots were in excellent 
condition and possessed good flavor, aroma, and firm texture. The 
characteristic color of the carrots was retained. 

2. There was little or no loss of carotene (pro-vitamin A) in any of the 
lots of "brined carrots similarly treated. 

3. In the "brined ca.rrots, the blanched lots were more tender than the 
unblanched lots. 

Dry salt compression treatment for "blanched green "beans (2.5, 5, 10, and 15 per- 
cent salt "by weight) cured and stored under laboratory conditions in closed con- 
tainers. 

1. 'This application of dry salting gave "better flavor and aroma retention 
in beans so preserved than was obtained by other methods of salting 
this vegetable. 

2. This method permitted about a 100 percent incroa.se in the amount of 
beans packed in given-sized containers as compared with other methods 
us ed. 

3. The lots stored at refrigerator temperature retained their bright 
green blanched color for about 1 month. 

4. Active fermentation in the refrigerated lots was arrested in the 
treatments with 10 and 15 percent salt up to the time this report was 
written (2-l/2 months after packing) while in the treatments with 2.5 
and 5 percent salt active fermentation took place at 21 and 45 days 
respectively. 

5. The vitamin retention studies showed that about 60 percent of the 
carotene (pro-vitamin A) and 15 percent of the vitamin \iras retained 
in all lots of beans irrespective of the quantity of salt employed 

or conditions of storage as to temperature (room or ref rigerator) . 



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